At least ten persons have been confirmed dead and as much as 40 injured as Boko Haram suicide bombers staged multiple attacks targeting mosques where Muslim worshippers were praying on Wednesday night, witnesses said.
The attack occurred while soldiers were battling to repel another horde of Boko Haram insurgents who were trying to invade the city via the southern flank.
PREMIUM TIMES reported the attack on the Jiddari Polo area of the city, with the army saying it repelled the attackers ‘neutralising’ many of them.
Several residents in the Jiddari Polo area fled their homes during the attack, but were later asked to return by the army.
While the army may have repelled the Boko Haram in Jiddari Polo, the terror group appears to have succeeded at the Maiduguri-Gamboru, which lies on the eastern axis of the city. Boko Haram insurgents armed with deadly explosives found their way into different mosques in that area and detonated themselves while scores of Muslims congregated to observe Ramadan night prayers.
The total casualty has not been officially provided, but residents said about a dozen corpses were evacuated by rescue officials.
Abba Shehu, a private security personnel in Maiduguri, said he could not count the number of injured that were dumped on the corridors of the already filled accident and emergency ward of the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital when he visited Thursday morning.
“It is a horrible sight we have here”, he said.
“I could not count the number of injured casualties at the accident and emergency ward; most of them sitting on the floor as the place is crowded and no bed to properly admit them.
“The incident happened at a mosque located opposite the Chad Basin Development Authority headquarters, where my parents live. When I had about the blast and I could not reach my parents, I had to rush down to the hospital to see those affected”.
A witness who lives at the Chad Basin Development Authority (CBDA) quarters, Alhaji Bashir, said there were four suicide attacks that occurred in different locations around the CBDA headquarters.
“The incident happened at about some minutes to 9 p.m. when we were about to round up the prayers”, he said.
“Suicide bombers came to our area and attacked four locations; one was a mosque opposite Chad Basin, one inside the Lake Chad Research Institute, another one inside the CBDA and one at Goni-Kachallari opposite the College of Agriculture.
“The injured casualty that we have now at the Teaching Hospital was about 37 persons from the four different location. About six persons were confirmed dead”.
He said the suicide bomber that attacked the CBDA quarters came at about some 8:45 p.m. and was sighted by the youth guarding the worshippers as he was walking quickly towards the mosque.
“The boys sighted him rushing to invade the worshippers, and one of the youth vigilante rushed to hold him.
“The bomb went off killing the suicide bomber and three other persons. That of the opposite Chad Basin came to a gathering of people at Coffee Vendor’s and detonated him. The explosion killed the bomber and affected a mosque and shops in the area.
“At the Lake Chad Research Institute, the suicide bomber invaded the quarters but met most of the houses locked up, so he managed to attack a house and killed himself and one other person. The one that occurred opposite the College happened as worshippers ended their prayers and were leaving, when a female suicide bomber went in to their midst and detonated the bomb, which killed her and one other person; many were also injured”, he said.
Boko Haram insurgents often use diversionary tactics like attempting to enter Maiduguri in large numbers in order to allow deadly suicide bombers sneak into the civilian population area to cause harm.
THE JIDDARI POLO INVASION
The Wednesday night attack on Jiddari Polo area started at about the time the majority Muslim residents were about to break their Ramadan fast.
Residents could not settle down for their meals as deafening sounds of shooting and bombs rented the air forcing dwellers of the suburbs at the outskirts of the town to flee into the city.
A witness, Yunusa Garba, informed PREMIUM TIMES on phone that his home was close to the major fighting point between soldiers and the insurgents.
“As I am talking to you, our neighborhood, which is not far away from the locations where the shooting was is filled with people that had to flee their communities as the Boko Haram arrived. They are all here, women aged men and children, all roaming the streets”.
He said some of the dislodged residents in the villages had earlier in the day alerted some security officials about a large assemblage of Boko Haram gunmen at a village named Alidawari, not more than 5km from Maiduguri.
“A report was taken to the security about the Boko Haram gathering at about 3 p.m., but nothing was done to that effect”, he said.
“But it was about three hours later that we learnt that the gunmen had attacked some of the small villages and chased all residents away. Most of the displaced residents made it to Maiduguri on foot”.
The Borno governor, Kashim Shettima, later visited the displaced persons on Wednesday night.
The attack on Alidawari, would be the first major assault by Boko Haram on Maiduguri in a very long time.
Security officials contacted by PREMIUM TIMES said it was too early to give a detailed account of what happened.
Th Borno State police spokesperson, Victor Isukwu, confirmed the incidents but was not forthcoming with details.